First, before reading this young man’s letter, let me give you the backstory…
A few months ago a young man came into my clinic with one request, to run again. Little did I know how much he would teach me about grit, passion, desire, and true success. My colleague evaluated this patient, but he was instructed to see me personally by his psychiatrist. Prior to my initial visit with this young man, the evaluating physical therapist sent me this email below:
You're seeing “Patient X” next Thursday. His goal is to get back to running so his MD wanted him to see you. He has anxiety and I think it would be best if you did his evaluation in a private treatment room, which is why he came here first. I'm not sure how he will do at the Aptos location? Just wanted to give you a heads up that he may do better in a quieter area of the gym.
When Patient X showed up for our first meeting, I decided to bring him into a large aerobics room. As we began to talk I could see his frustration and anxiety growing and his need to speak and share his story. I knew we both shared a passion for running and movement, so I decided to let movement guide our sessions until his comfort with both the surroundings and myself improved. As our sessions continued, he showed significant improvement. He began to walk without a cane and within three months he started running again. Despite these enormous physical accomplishments, the most amazing phenomenon was that I witnessed his anxiety nearly disappear. His brain craved movement. The crippling anxiety that he had lived with for years was now relieved through something as fundamental and basic as walking and running. The biopsychosoical change that Patient X was going through was so powerful that one of my colleagues nearly started crying the first day he saw him run in the clinic.
There are no words to describe how inspired I am by Patient X’s passion for running and movement. He is one of the reasons why Move2Thrive is necessary and why I truly believe that Movement Is Life!
He agreed to share his story, so enjoy his inspiring words below…
I have had a love of running for a very long time. For me running was a sense of freedom where I could escape all my problems and give my mind clarity making it easier to think and process thoughts about my daily life. It is something that is exhilarating yet calming. It provided a good feeling knowing I was doing something constructive for both body and mind. Even though running would tire me out it still gave me energy to handle responsibilities that were in my life. Running is an activity that is always available, so I can always rely on it to help me throughout the days. It is something I can count on to make things better.
Over the years I have experienced a series of traumatic events that have rendered me with great anxiety and mental struggles that make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks and other responsibilities, and it makes it difficult to enjoy much of life’s joys. It is mental stress that sticks with me twenty-four seven and it is very tolling on my life. Running was one of the very few activities I had that allowed me to cope with my daily struggles.
The mental clarity running gives me helps me sort through the confusion my mental problems give me. The sense of escape that running gives me also allows me to take my mind off my problems for the brief period of time I’m running giving me much needed breathing room from my problems.
However during my time in high school I ran on my school’s track and cross country team where I soon began to have serious psychical troubles with my knees. The doctors said the troubles came from a multitude of reasons as apparently there was a lack of cartilage around my kneecaps, my kneecaps were located higher up my leg than they were suppose to be, and a muscle tightness imbalance with both of my thighs. It made it very painful to run and even walk at times. Soon the knee pain only continued to worsen until I was no longer able to run at all and forced to walk everywhere I go. It got even worse as it soon became hard to even walk and sometimes the pain would be so bad I wouldn’t be able to walk outside at all and I would be forced to site inside my home and waste away. Not being able to run and even walk at times was a hard condition to deal with.
However when the pain started to occur I was given physical therapy to help heal myself to regain the ability to run again. It was very difficult process for me to do and I was not successful at getting better for many years, but I continued with it anyway hoping one day I could be able to run again. I stuck with the physical therapy and continued to receive help with the training from many great people and with it I was finally able to start recovering from the physical impairment I had suffered under for so long. Now thanks to the physical therapy I have slowly been able to rebuild the strength in my knees and am now currently slowly starting to gain the ability to run again. Being able to slowly run again is like freedom. It has now given me another way to fight back against the mental problems that plague me everyday. Now I no longer have to feel trapped like I can’t do much to fix the problem of my mental struggles and dealing with the challenges of being physically impaired. Fighting for the ability to run again was worth fighting for every step of the way.